Everything You Need to Know About Choosing an SDR Radio

Software-defined radio, or SDR, allows you to mix, amplify, filter, send, and receive communications through a computer instead of a base station or an in-vehicle ham radio. These systems work with your sound card and analogue to digitally convert and process the information through your computer's processor. On eBay, you can find a variety of SDR radio products at a range of price points.

What are some of the features of software radios?

Some of the available features of the software radio units on eBay include:

  • Portability - Some of the units are designed to be portable or held in your hand.
  • Battery powered - The portable units can operate on a small battery.
  • Operating system compatibility - The software is designed to work with various versions of Windows, Linux, or iOS with available drivers.
  • Temperature compensation - This dissipates the heat generated by the radio equipment while it is in use inside of the computer.
  • Plug and play - The units are immediately recognized by the computer.
What are the supported modes of operation in SDR radios?

The supported modes of operation in SDR radios include all of the amateur ham communications of Morse code, single sideband modulation, frequency modulation, and amplitude modulation. These units are also capable of operating in radio teletype, COFDM, slow scan television, and packet radio modes. They can decode analogue to digital and digital to analogue signals.

How is an SDR radio different from other ham radios?

Software-defined radios reduce interference in incoming and outgoing signals based on algorithms built into the software. They also use software-modulated antennas to reduce interference and lock onto incoming transmissions. The software automatically does some filtering and tuning. With ham radio, the operator has to do all of the filtering and tuning manually. Software-defined radio also uses technology to reduce the required power, which extends battery life in portable units.

How do you choose an SDR radio unit from eBay?

When shopping for an affordable SDR radio on eBay, consider the following features:

  • Kit - Some of the SDR radios include an antenna, cables, wires, power supply, installation tools, and accessories.
  • Computer compatibility - There are SDR radios to work with iOS, Linux, and Windows operating systems.
  • Brand options - Some of the brands available are Baofeng, RTO-SDR, and Skyfall. There are also unbranded units available.
  • Condition - Choose from new, used, and manufacturer's refurbished units.